That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways…
When Jesus comes to the soul, He delivers us from that direst of all bondages, fetches us out from that cruellest of all slaveries, the bondage of the .spirit, the slavery of the heart. Then we are told that, if there are any who are m a worse state than that of mere captivity, namely, in darkness as well as in bondage, the Lord Jesus Christ comes to them, and says, "Show yourselves; rise, and come out of the darkness; hide away no longer, come forth into the light, and enjoy it."
I. I have to try to FIND OUT THE CHARACTERS mentioned in the text: "Them that are in darkness."
1. They were not always in darkness. She was a bright young spirit once, after a fashion; and he, — I know him very well, — seemed to be everything that mirth could make youth to be. But, on a sudden, there came a cloud in the sky, both to her and to him. It may be that a death happened in the family, or sickness came, or if it was neither of these things, at any rate, the mind suddenly grew strangely quiet, and a stillness came down upon the spirit, and with that stillness there fell a gloom over the whole being. What were those thoughts that brought such a sobering influence into the life? I can tell you about them from my own experience. I thought, "I have not lived as I ought to have lived. God made me, yet I have never truly served Him. He is my mother's God, but I have forgotten Him; my father's God, yet I have never sought Him. What shall I do? God must punish me," &c. I seemed plastic as wax towards evil, yet hard as cast-iron or steel towards anything that was good. Then I grew sad in soul. I read my Bible a great deal, and the more I read it the more the darkness thickened about me, &c. This is the gateway into a joy that will be worth your having.
2. Besides this, a sense of sin has settled upon you.
3. The soul I am describing is in the dark, and the darkness settles down in conviction of sin. You have no hope.
4. You fear future and eternal night. It is to people in such a state that the Gospel of Christ is sent.
II. I am going to REPEAT THE EXHORTATION of the text: "Show yourselves."
1. It means that you are running away from Divine justice, and that your wisest course will be to go and deliver yourself up. Do you not know that you are not really hidden? God sees you wherever you are; there is no hiding away from Him That is the very first thing for you to do; to submit yourself to God, to lie at His feet pleading for mercy.
2. The next way of showing yourselves is somewhat different: "Say to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves"; that is, you are very lonely, and you have been avoiding your best friends. Come out of your retirement. If you cannot speak to any mortal man, yet speak to the Immortal Man; go and tell out all your sorrow to the best of friends.
3. This passage may be applied to you who are sick, who are concealing your disease. I want every man who is troubled about the state of his heart, and every woman too, to come and show themselves to Christ, just as they are, in all their sire
4. The next thing you have to do is to show yourselves As healed ones, bound to confess Him who has cured them.
5. But I am going to carry the text a little farther yet. There are some young men, perhaps some young women also, who have been saved; they are no longer in the dark, and God has given them grace, and talents, yet still they are hiding themselves away. They are chosen ones loth to take their place of service. If the Lord has saved you, and if He is pleading for you in heaven, it is time you began to plead for Him on earth.
6. Our text applies also to persecuted ones who shall be owned and honoured of God. There will come a day when God's people, who have long been in the dark through persecution, slander, and misrepresentation, shall hear the Lord speaking to them out of heaven, and saying, "Gather My saints together unto Me; those that nave made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." "Say to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves." What a change will come for God's poor despised people in that day!
7. These words also relate to dead ones called to resurrection.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.